The 2020 UPSC CSE prelims results have come out, and as expected, the number of candidates who have cleared for the next level is just around 11 thousand. The Preliminary exam has been designed in such a way that it ensures the maximum number of eliminations in the initial stage itself, making Preliminary one of the most challenging stages to clear. Since around 10 lakh students register for the Civil Service Examination and roughly 4 lakh students attempt it, the Preliminary exam is exceptionally competitive. Please keep in mind that there are just around 800-900 vacancies every year and UPSC is tasked with finding the best amongst the aspirants for the civil services. Since the valuation of mains papers takes a lot of time compared to Preliminary, the maximum number of rejections are purposefully made in the Preliminary stage itself.
Why many fail to cross the cut-off in Preliminary?
Even though the answers are right there in front of you, why is it that many aspirants are not able to pick the right answer? The syllabus for Preliminary looks light and students study for many hours a day and yet they are not even able to get 50% of marks in Paper 1 of Preliminary. The recent trend is showing that just by getting 50% will take you to the next level.
The reason behind this is that the Preliminary syllabus is not as light as you think it is. It’s a broad syllabus in reality, and this allows UPSC to ask any question, which sometimes gives us one of the biggest brain jogging shocks. Moreover, UPSC is aware that many aspirants have been trying to crack the civil services for years. UPSC knows that this will affect the newcomers in this exam who may not be able to crack it in their first attempt. Hence, the questions are made in such a way that neither the experienced player/newcomer can crack it just by mugging the portions, but rather, be it an experienced player or newcomer, Preliminary can be cracked only if you have conceptual clarity and application of your knowledge. And again sitting inside the exam hall, the never seen before questions can unsettle you and UPSC wants this exactly. They are recreating a scenario where you will be subjected to stress in the future when you become a civil servant. During these times, a civil servant must possess finesse, which is grace under pressure. The aspirants must have the same quality, to be calm under pressure.
How to clear Preliminary in your next attempt?
A UPSC aspirant should always wonder what they study for civil services. You must consider what the knowledge that you see inside the texts are trying to convey and how you can apply it for the exam. This helps you in cracking prelims. Everything else is secondary. Go through the question papers of the last few years and read the questions. Now, ask yourself- “the approach that I have used to acquire knowledge, is it the right one to crack these questions?” If you feel that the approach is fine, then the only missing factor is more study hours. If you find it challenging to find the answers, then you might want to consider changing the way you are trying to acquire the knowledge. With the thirst for knowledge and decision to study with conceptual clarity rather than mugging up, you will clear Preliminary sooner or later. Start with NCERT’s and attend the maximum number of tests you can. Once you start to believe in yourself, it’s just a matter of time before you achieve success. Our aim at Officers’ IAS Academy is to ensure that everyone gets the best chance to crack this exam. Be it through guidance or materials, we wanted to give the best for anyone who wanted to become a civil servant.
If you feel that you have missed just by a whisker or if you are comfortable with the basics and all you need is more practice, you are welcome to our Steeplechase programme. It’s an intense ten-month (now seven) program designed for those who know the basics of the exam but need more training with exam writing and conceptual clarity. The program is designed for both Preliminary and Mains combined with the aim of making you a successful candidate next time. You may refer to our previous year’s Steeplechase Program’s details to understand further.
The hard work you put in will give you success as long as you keep committing to this journey. Remember, you should consider your failure in Preliminary just like a roadblock. Continue moving forward until you finish the journey—best wishes for your next attempt.